Interview: Five minutes with Kitzl

Producer and composer, Kitzl has just released her track ‘Wizard Girls’ lifted from her album 40 Moons That We Know Of.

The Canadian artist plays with organically derived sounds in an electronic, pop-driven way. Her work builds upon short, hooky loops to formulate dramatic songs and unearthly soundscapes. Kitzl samples every day sounds like gates, pottery, and branches to give strange, dirty textures to her work, and populates it with the voices of coyotes, frogs, crickets and birds alongside layers of her own light vocals.

While each piece of music is emotionally rooted in humanoid experiences, instrumentally and lyrically they might bring up images of anthropomorphized planets and objects, as well as imaginary races of probably non-existent life-forms. There is subtle conflict in Kitzl’s work and aesthetic. It’s a disquieted feud between a playful, child-like wonder, and a darker, more displeased bitterness at something.

We caught up with her to chat about her inspiration, process, and interests outside of music.

Set the tone for us. Why the arts? 

They’re just fun, I guess.  It’s all play for me and I like it to be like that.  Real life is serious and complicated and making stuff that’s decent can be frustrating, but overall the arts just feel like a big game with lots of cool toys to play with.  There are no rules and you are in charge of the outcome. Then there is a very interesting science behind music, but you don’t necessarily have to use that to make effective stuff.  You can use that however you want, to make what you like. Creating stuff that doesn’t already exist feels important.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea? 

In most cases the sound.  But often the sound comes from an idea, and then the song builds itself from the sound if that makes sense. But I probably don’t have any grand plans for an entire song.  That comes after I have toyed with that sound and tried combining it with others. I’ll eventually make some different harmonic patterns or beats and turn them into a song it’s all sounding neat.  Of course, once in a while, this is all turned on its head.

What’s on your current playlist? 

I have been listening to the song Blood Bath by Bon Iver on loop the last couple days. Also been listening to Aseul’s new releases.  She’s an awesome indie synth-pop artist from Korea. I just found an artist called Windows 96 who makes really SUAVE vaporwave stuff. I’ve also been indulging Spice Girls nostalgia a lot the last couple weeks.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage. 

I’m finding I really like when I see people dancing and moving to my more “upbeat” (for me) songs.  It sometimes catches me off-guard because I’m not much of a dancer. I forget that that’s a thing people will do; just stand in a room with loud music and move around.  I want to make more fun, groovy songs like this one to get that happening as much as possible. I like not being the only one in the room wiggling and jumping around as I play my stuff.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound? 

Lots of sampling right now.  I took a bunch of samples of classical guitar and reversed them to get make some pads that sound like a drunken string quartet spaghettifying in a black hole.  I used that on a few songs on my album. Also lots of percussive snippets from banging pottery, glass, rocks, branches, doors. I like to incorporate some wildlife sounds.  I find it makes my work sound less lonely.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”? 

I think when I found myself abandoning all other responsibilities to learn about music and write songs that were a big hint.  I became obsessed and super unhappy when I wasn’t doing it. I’m still the same so I’ve built music into my life as much as possible.  It kind of feels like I don’t have a choice at this point. It’s like sleep: it has to occur with some regularity or I become a massive, whiny brat.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set? 

Hmm, nothing really other than my laptop, gear and instruments.  I don’t even keep a drink close by because I’m a klutz and I know I will spill it on my stuff. (Klutzl, lol)

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression. 

Right now, I often start my projects right in my DAW or on Maschine (software and hardware controller) by Native Instruments.  They have lots of great sample kits and VSTS and effects. Cubase also has some nice stock instruments which I got started on and still use occasionally.  I combine soft synths with my own samples and in some of the songs on my album, like Armadilla, I used my Korg Minilogue a lot. In my song Waterfall, it’s just my electric guitar and Guitar Rig by NI.  In my live set, I use a TC Helicon Perform VE as the vocoder and vocal fx brain, along with my laptop, maschine, midi controller, and looper.

Any side projects you’re working on? 

Musically, I have some extra-experimental “songs”, and some ambient stuff that I’m debating releasing.  Maybe under another name. I’m pretty sure no one will like them except me so I would maybe like to slip them quietly into the void.  Music aside, I’ve been getting involved with a local parrot and bird rescue/sanctuary which I’m quite passionate about.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry? 

I feel like I have just entered the industry now, and I definitely spent a lot of time refining the craft beforehand, but there’s a long way to go.   I have a lot of unfinished projects and some new ideas that I’m really excited to play with. Playing live has been a massive step for me and I’m really excited to develop my set further this summer.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year? 

I’ll be working on a bunch of content for some new releases over the summer!  I’m really excited about the next album. I’m also reaching out with my live show, hoping to somehow branch as far as I can in the next year.

Famous last words?

Call me beep me if you wanna reach me.

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By Sarah Britton